The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today vehemently condemned the physical assault and detention of three journalists by the police in Angola.

Two reporters for Rádio Essencial, Suely de Melo and Carlos Tomé, and a photographer for the newspaper Valor Economico, Santos Samuesseca, were arrested along with their driver on October 24, while they were covering an anti-government demonstration in the capital Luanda.

“The assault and arrest of journalists is a blatant attempt to prevent the media from covering demonstrations, and a gross violation of press freedom”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “The government should instruct law enforcement officials to allow journalists to do their work and take action against those who assaulted and detained the three journalists.”

According to information received by IPI, the journalists were apprehended as they were leaving the demonstration for their office. Police officials pulled them out of their vehicle and assaulted them. They also seized the camera and mobile phones of the journalists and the driver. After being driven around to several police stations, they were detained at the Provincial Police Command office. The police released the journalists and the driver on October 26, after spending 50 hours in in custody, without any charges.

The executive director of GEM Angola, which owns the newspapers Valor Económico, Nova Gazeta and Radio Essencial,  told IPI that police officials did not give any reason for the arrest of the journalists and have not returned the equipment seized from them.

Anti-government protests have swept Luanda, with large demonstrations against poor living conditions and demanding local elections that have been delayed because of the pandemic. More than 100 people were arrested after police fired tear gas shells and beat up protestors to clear the roads.